Monday, June 22, 2009

What's needed: Not only money, but ideas

How can Charlotte begin to compensate for a non-profit shortfall of $20 million?

The number is too big - and the economy too harsh - for charities to expect that a handful of big donors will come bearing big money. Difficult decisions are ahead, including some agencies closing their doors.

Others will reinvent themselves, and that's where the help begins. Charlotte's philanthropic community is talking about a building a survival fund to help charities help themselves. If, for example, charities want to combine staffs to save money, the fund could pay for consultants.

Some help - perhaps more than ever - will come from smaller groups, such as WPEG-FM "Power 98" and Montreat College in Charlotte, which are raising money for specific agencies. One group of a dozen women have opened the Common Grounds Farm Stand at Providence and Queens roads. They'll sell fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods to help the Urban Ministry's homelessness programs.

More innovative ideas will be needed to compensate for the funding shortfall. Kelley Wheeler, co-chair of CMG Children's Consignment Sale, e-mails us with one:

Kelley writes:

The committee organizing the CMG Children's Consignment Sale at St. Gabriel Church is searching for charitable organizations to receive in-kind contributions of children's and maternity items that will be left unsold at the end of our sale in October.

Last year, we gave just over $12,000 (a figure that's a small fraction of the retail value) in children's clothing, sports equipment, maternity clothing, baby gear and toys to 7 different organizations including the WISH Foundation, Room At The Inn, the Alexander Youth Network, the CSS Refugee Office and to Thomasboro Elementary School.

Sadly, the rest of our unsold merchandise was loaded onto a truck and shipped off to the Kidney Foundation instead of getting into the hands of more of our neighbors in need. This year, we would like to partner with more organizations in our community to make sure that all of our unsold merchandise gets distributed within our community.

Interested in working with Kelley and CMG? Contact her at (704) 819-4986 or

Says Kelley: "If every consignment sale partnered with our community organizations to distribute our unsold items locally, we just might help our community ride out the lack of funds donated."

Have an idea, too? Send it to


Anonymous said...

I think the core problem is that you can’t get blood from a turnip. People who are out of work just don’t have the funds to donate anything to charity. Even people who have jobs are seeing their salaries frozen or reduced while expenses continue to climb. When you look at your budget and factor in that new trick where companies stop contributing to employees’ 401(k) plans something has to give.

Then there is the sensation that these charities are being run by money hungry crooks who have been stiff arming us for years through work based contributions.

Between the King issue at the United Way and this new mess over at DSS I’m feeling less than charitable myself.

In lieu of giving money to charities I think I’m going to put any extra money I get my hands on towards paying off my student loans.

Cenzo said...

Yeah I agree.

My student loans have been paid for for a long long time, but this is the first year in memories ability to recall we actively decided to not contribute to any cause but that of the SPCA.

Call it "Kingitis". I don't give a roll of Charmin who you are, all that salary and all those perks came back to haunt whoever approved such nonsense. And also as well, more serious and worthy charities other than United are feeling the brunt.

I am more certain of what the SCPA does with the money so they get it this year.

Mominem said...

The poor are the most generous Americans. If they can help, then I don't have an excuse not to help when I see a need.
I'm going to pay my bills, reduce my spending, live fiscally conservative, and give generously.

It's going to be many months until this economy turns around. It's going to take the action of individuals to make a difference to these charities.

I know that I can't help everyone, but I can help someone.

Now, where's that box of Mac 'n Cheese hiding in the back of my pantry? There's a food drive on Wednesday.

Elvis said...

King should be charged with theft and they should try to recover some of the funds she stole.

Why should I give to an agency that refuses to take action to recover stolen money?